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Author HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
stuey

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 21:08:14
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Put it this way. Calcium Carbide is an "interesting chemical". I'd say "gets wet and releases acetylene" is perhaps an eyebrow raiser for COSHH. Putting that in a device that could get blocked may run the risk of having some sort of acetylene grenade.....just hope that if it did go pop, there wasn't a leaky oxygen cylinder in the room, otherwise you'd just get a big smoky flame. There is nothing in the "hazcards" about carbide burning skin, so I assume it doesn't. Dry hands.....

Any half brained person would see that the jet was pricked and enough carbide was used to make the minimal amount of gas. I'd say the shitty old jar of carbide was more of a hazard....assuming leaky oxygen cylinder and lab spod smoking a fag in there.

The oil lamps which are sometimes used instead of bunsens are pretty much molotov cocktails. They are allowed.

Anyway, thankfully, most schools allow a bit of discression.

I built one of these:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubens'_Tube

and drag it into places with me, it's one of those amazing things that wows people, especially if you put music through it... This place wanted a CORGI Gas certificate for it.

Bearing in mind that it is basically a glorified gas leak.....

Sadly, there are only one group of people that are negatively affected by this crap.

I'll have a word with the chief and ask why the establishment is unusually OTT with simple things. Since it is an oddity and is impinging heavily on teaching/learning compared to other schools, I'd say, short of a denial filled arrogant answer, they would do well to critically appraise the process. If everyone was doing it to the same degree and consistency, there would be no problem.

I expect that regardless of what I say, there will be no change or even introspection over the matter.

And then you wonder why "some kids made a chlorine bomb like the one on the internet" and then blew their fingers off/etc....

I can see that in some cases, the staff are inept and unskilled, but that is no reason to bind everyone by the same bullshit. "Reasonable" is the word I am after. If something awful was to happen, I'd be the first to admit fault and resign/pay the price. I'd rather have this responsibility and be allowed to make my own judgements about what I actually do.

I would say that come the tightening of the economy, this rubbish is the first to get trimmed a bit in practice by the "doing" sector. The public sector will always be full of idealistic, tedious crap, just like the people who work in it! Smile
IP: 87.114.168.199 Edited: 18/06/2009 21:12:27 by stuey
ttxela

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 21:34:18
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Hmm, well sticking my head above the parapet as someone who's just been made group safety advisor for our company (not my first choice, I'm primarily the facilities manager but I was "volunteered" a few years ago and they've paid for all the training, qualifications so.....)

It is a different world and by and large the system has adapted to popular demand so we've got the system the majority asked for.

What is sometimes not appreciated is the reverse burden of proof involved when these things go to court. In broad terms the HSWA requires the company to ensure the health and safety of it's employees. Therefore if someone gets hurt then the injury itself is proof that they have failed in this duty and so are guilty until proven innocent. The defense is that they reduced the risk as low as reasonably practicable or took resonably practicable precautions. In reality this means documentation and a risk assessment is the first document to be asked for.

The RA itself does nothing to reduce risk, the precautions you take based on it do, but without it how can you show you're rationale behind any precautions.

As has been said a few lines should suffice in the case of the safety lamp.

The reaction was over the top though and clearly out of all proportion.

One thing we all suffer from is the over emphasis on legal compliance and the risk of being taken to court, rather than actually trying to prevent injuries and illnesses as a desirable end in itself, this usually results in doing the easy stuff first and ignoring the harder to address issues that actually matter. Far too often I visit places that have risk assessments for office staplers and COSHH assessments for coffee (seriously I have some copies I kept before I deleted them from the system) whilst heavy machinery is ignored.....
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JohnnearCfon

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 22:28:35
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ttxela wrote:


Far too often I visit places that have risk assessments for office staplers and COSHH assessments for coffee (seriously I have some copies I kept before I deleted them from the system) whilst heavy machinery is ignored.....


I remember once reading a COSHH paper about "washing up liquid". Honestly, I did! It went into great detail about the process of "washing up". No, it wasn't a joke one either. Guns

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stuey

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 19/06/2009 00:30:19
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ttxela wrote:



The RA itself does nothing to reduce risk, the precautions you take based on it do, but without it how can you show you're rationale behind any precautions.

As has been said a few lines should suffice in the case of the safety lamp.



I can quite clearly explain my rationale to anyone without any preparation time. Just as I wouldn't COSHH assess a bowl of sugar or my lab stools, I don't see why I should waste time on pointless, time wasting sh!t. It is NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT, it is merely how an institution interpret bullsh!t.

I'd quite happily waffle away for hours to a judge explaining my understanding and rationale for my actions. To put it on paper, given the risks involved is petty and a total waste of my time. In fact, a total and utter waste of taxpayers money.

Do not become a part of the problem by trying to justify this inane stupidity. Half the problem is people thinking they can somehow surrender their responsibilities to a nanny knowing that the legal system will award them compo.

There is no need for any of this rubbish. A lot of modern, successful, hazard and injury free countries enjoy freedom from this totalitarian monster.....

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ttxela

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 19/06/2009 07:52:25
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There is a general duty under the MHSW regs for an employer to assess risks to a suitable and sufficient standard.

Is a safety lamp a risk? Probably not under all but the most extreme circumstances but maybe your rather excitable lady didn't have a clue what it was?

Even today if you unexpectedly intoduce some equipment of your own then you are taking a good proportion of the liability on yourself, however if your employer sees you do it it becomes reasonably forseeable that you'll do similar in the future and more liability shifts to your employer. The case law on this is quite interesting an apprentice shoved a compressed air line up another apprentices a**e with predictably unpleasant consequences. The employer argued that this couldn't possibly be a risk he could be expected to forsee but it was held that because there was a history of practical jokes and horseplay there was forseeability.

Much of the historic caselaw used to demonstrate principles of defence now ends with the proviso that under similar circumstances the defence would be unlikely to succeed today Sad . This is in reality the courts response to the changed expectations of society Sad

Whilst it may be obvious to us that your lamp is no risk I still think your employer is entitled to a brief RA explaining that.

I still have moments of doubt as to why I let myself get involved in this side of things in the first place but hopefully it does allow me to introduce some level of common sense at times Blush

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AR

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 19/06/2009 08:05:59
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There's just been a bit on BBC breakfast about H&S and schools, all the usual stories about kids not being allowed to run in the playground, having to wear goggles to use blu-tak, teachers not allowed to put plasters on cuts, etc. There was a lady from the HSE interviewed, who said straight out that none of this was due to HSE rules and regs but was instead down to individual schools making these decisions. Furthermore, she said it was important that children should be allowed to take risks (with adequate supervision) so that they learned how to identify and manage risk, and the problem was with hyper-protective parents who can't cope with the slightest injury happening to their children.....

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sparty_lea

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 19/06/2009 08:07:32
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ttxela wrote:


It is a different world and by and large the system has adapted to popular demand so we've got the system the majority asked for.

I don't agree, I certainly never demanded it or voted for it and I cant think of many people who don't complain that they have more paperwork than real work to do.

If everyone just rolls over and goes along with all of it then it certainly wont change.
H&S is a good principle and no one should feel compelled to work in a way that they feel isn't safe or be put at risk they haven't signed up for BUT it has gone way too far IMHO.


ttxela wrote:


What is sometimes not appreciated is the reverse burden of proof involved when these things go to court. In broad terms the HSWA requires the company to ensure the health and safety of it's employees. Therefore if someone gets hurt then the injury itself is proof that they have failed in this duty and so are guilty until proven innocent.


....and that is the problem exactly, people have an expectation that if something bad happens then it must be somebody's fault.
Its NOT healthy to raise a whole generation who are isolated from all potentially risky activities.
Better a few should get hurt or even die enjoying themselves and doing stuff than the majority sit about and munch themselves into diabetes, obesity and and early grave.

ttxela wrote:


The RA itself does nothing to reduce risk, the precautions you take based on it do, but without it how can you show you're rationale behind any precautions.


You can stand up on your hind legs and say why you did or didn't do what you did

Why do people have this tendency to see the written word as somehow more believable than what someone says? One read of The Sun should fix that.
ttxela wrote:


The reaction was over the top though and clearly out of all proportion.


Absolutely
IP: 88.110.29.76 Edited: 21/06/2009 22:49:08 by sparty_lea
Moorebooks

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 19/06/2009 08:53:03
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And when something happens if you haven't taken the appropriate precautions it hits the fan and rightly so

Risk Assesment is about a methodical way of of identifying the Hazards and then subsequent risks. I hate paperwork and hate having to dothings this way and you have to be a real pessemist to do consider the worst risks. From that you have a risk management.

Bottom line complain al you like but using commonsense and reducing risk is everyones interest. You don't document how you check your caving gear but you would make dam sure if you employ someone to use it you will have a careful check list and confirmed checks

Mike
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derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 19/06/2009 09:16:29
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people who say they would happily spend hours waffling to a judge, are probably people who haven't had to do it. I've been involved on two occasions with HSE proceedings following a reportable injury, and it isn't remotely amusing, not least because the judge is not actually there to listen to you waffling.

If you aren't telling him something applicable to a case precedent which he understands and you don't, you will get short shrift.

this is the reason why so many workplaces follow the practice of people being given payment in lieu of notice; there is a clear relationship between claims for workplace accidents, and redundancy. Any experienced HSE Manager will tell you about this.

Not so very many years ago, there was a comic stereotype of the ineffectual and vaguely effete Scoutmaster; Charles Hawtrey was the classic of the genre. Compare this with the elaborate procedures the Scout Association now have in place, which they know from experience they need.

there is always someone who is deciding that you need goggles to use BluTack, or old people shouldn't have knitting needles, or whatever it might be; these are then blown up by the press as specific decisions, whereas in fact they are usually, simply particular applications of broad-brush approaches which weren't given enough thought in the first place, and get provided for once they are lampooned.
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Roy Morton

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 20/06/2009 12:51:46
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Makes you wonder if a car would pass the test if it were described as a machine with; A tank full of a highly flamable liquid that is then channelled beneath the passengers to a lump of metal in the front that uses the said liquid to deliberately produce violent and powerful explosions, and emit large quantities of toxic gasses as a by-product. This can then be used to take children to school controlled by a physically and mentally stressed operator, with periodic hormone fluctuations.

Yeah!.... pull the other one!

I was telling Stuey of an incident when I was at school. A science teacher was happy to boil up a variety of different liquids on his bench to demonstrate the fact that different liquids boil at different temperatures...No Probs! Water, Salt water, and then Benzine.
Well.... needless to say the Benzine caught fire and in an attempt to save the thermometer that was sitting in the now flaming beaker, Mr ***** loosened the clamp and swung the thermometer to one side which knocked the beaker off the tripod and onto the bench.
8 feet of flaming bench, twentyfive students in paroxysms of lafter later, and one kid had the foresight to grab the fire blanket (ASBESTOS!!!!) and chuck it over the lot.
Stuey tells me that Benzine would not even be allowed to enter a school lab nowadays.
People need to be given the freedom to go and hurt themselves without blaming others. Lets face it, suicide has been decriminalised but you don't need to write a H&S report to go out and do it, or get done for failing to produce one should you cock it up.
If I fall off my bike I'm not going to blame Raleigh for having made it.....sh1t happens.....get over it!


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agricola

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 21/06/2009 16:24:28
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No one would let mining start now - drill holes with compressed air and all that noise. Handle explosives in a confined space with electric dets. Venture into dubious air coupled with loose rocks. Not to mention water ...

From your chemistry Roy, perhaps the HSE/School Inspector would have liked our chemistry class (6th form), nitrating benzene- nice yellow liquid (on the third nitration), whilst within ten feet of pair of large gas bottles (oxygen and hydrogen, if I remember). The teacher said that we ought to stop, because the liquid was known to decompose, as we would have done.

On the subject of interesting experiments, did anyone ever see the OU prog when they put some ceasium in to water. I would have liked to have seen the RA on this one.

Just remember life is a series of risks, its pretty risky at the beginning and the end, with a variety of risk in the middle.

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stuey

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 21/06/2009 22:08:31
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Commonsense is an interesting one.

I suppose various reading/training allows you to increase your commonsense, as applied to assessing risk. You wouldn't need a risk assessment for every scenario where a butcher uses his sharps, so why ask a chemist?

It seems that health and safety dogma is based on the assumption that all are equal to the lowest common denominator. I find this pretty offensive actually. The LCD is a pretty idiotic hazard and I'd rather that I was left to do things like light a bloody oil lamp, or make small amounts of HE, as I am quite capable of doing so. Again, short of a freak accident, I and loads of others like me are totally confident that they have taken every precaution against every eventuality, short of an act of god.

Again, if something does go horribly wrong, I don't see how a paper risk assessment differs from a police statement. In fact, it would perhaps be better that people do post-accident statements, to see how their perception of risk really is. If I order an experiment, or some kit, it comes with a card with the risks on. I doubt that anyone bothers to read them, it's just essential red tape box ticking.....

Anyway, as for Rubidium and Caesium, they have a habit of igniting in air, which adds to the interest of the old "whap it in water" demo. Personally, my favourite is to do the 1cm^3 of sodium in water....it holds together long enough to get enough heat to make it "detonate" (ish). Doesn't work with any of the others.

Biggest alkali metal jobbie I've done was chucking a lump of potassium the size of a childs fist off the Tyne Bridge. Cue big bangs, balls of white fire and lots of K2O smoke!

Benzene is horrible and whilst faaaather used to wash in the stuff, it is proven to be pretty carcinogenic. Horrid stuff, but again a very useful reagent/solvent. Sadly difficult to come by, but one that's probably better for staff or repeat users to avoid.
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